Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cuba News Update: President Raul Castro Speaks to the Closing Session of the National People's Assembly

I congratulate our heroic and revolutionary people and wish them renewed success in the 52nd year of the Revolution

Susana Lee and Juan Diego Nusa

WITH this message, President Raúl Castro ended his closing speech at the final session of the National Assembly of People’s Power.

Under the direction of Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, president of the highest body of state power, the 4th ordinary session of the 7th Legislature began its work with a moving tribute to Commander of the Revolution Juan Almeida Bosque.

During the meeting on Sunday, December 20, the Assembly jointly approved economic and social policy lines and the 2010 state budget. The latter was presented by parliamentary deputy Marino Murillo Jorge, vice president of the Council of Ministers and minister of economy and planning, who reported that despite the country’s complex economic situation, economic growth for 2009 is estimated at 1.4%, and for 2010, the proposed figure is 1.9%.

Deputy Osvaldo Martinez, president of the Economic Affairs Commission, spoke on both documents, and later began the discussions in which several parliamentarians participated.

Also during the session meetings, the seven vacancies on the Council of State were filled: as vice presidents, Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdés Menéndez and Gladys Bejerano Portela, the first woman to hold such a high responsibility; and as members, Liudmila Alamo Dueñas, Isis Angelina Diez Duardo, Kirenia Díaz Burke, Marino Murillo Jorge and Sergio Rodríguez Morales.

The Assembly recognized Julio Martínez for having resigning from the Council State so that his seat could be filled by Liudmila Alamo, currently first secretary of the UJC (Union of Young Communists).

Likewise, Jorge Luis Sierra, vice president of the Council of Ministers and minister of transport, presented the proposed Traffic and Transit Code. He emphasized that, in compliance with Decree-law No. 231 of 2002, for the last seven years, a group of experts from the Ministries of the Interior, Transport, Labor and Social Security, Public Health, and Education and Construction have worked on a thorough revision of Law No. 60, the highway administration and transit code.

In presenting the report on the proposed law, Deputy José Luis Toledo Santander, president of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Commission, said that the recommendation was to continue the nationwide study and analysis of the proposed law, and to postpone the vote on it until the next ordinary session of the Legislature, given the complexity of the issues addressed and the need for a broad knowledge of the law’s contents.

The National Assembly passed proposals to back the position of Cuba and the other member countries of the ALBA bloc (Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America) at the recently-concluded summit on climate change in Copenhagen, and to intensify the work underway to demand the liberation of the five Cuban national heroes.

It was also agreed that the year 2010 will be called "Year 52 of the Revolution," in line with the decision taken at the 8th ordinary session of the previous Legislature.

At the beginning of the meeting, Alarcón announced the presence of Evariste Boshab, president of the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and also announced that María Esther Reus González, minister of justice, had occupied her post as parliamentary deputy for the municipality of Sancti Spíritus.

Translated by Granma International

Havana December 22, 2009

Cuban foreign minister: Copenhagen was a failure and a step backwards

Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver

THE recently-concluded 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, was a failure, and it signified a step backwards in the international community’s actions to prevent or mitigate the effects of global warming, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla said at a Monday press conference at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After rejecting the accusations of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Environmental Minister Ed Miliband that a handful of countries (referring to Third World nations) took the conference hostage, Rodríguez Parrilla explained that the conference, which generated so many expectations, made no decisions whatsoever on any binding or nonbinding commitments, either political or related to international law.

Unfortunately, there was no agreement in Copenhagen, he emphasized.

Rodríguez Parrilla affirmed that there was only ambiguous, deceitful wheeling-and-dealing behind the back of the Conference imposed by President Barack Obama on a group of countries, and subsequent attempts to impose these on states party to the convention.

In that context, he said that the cause of the failure lies in the lack of political will on the part of the industrialized countries, which drafted a final document and tried to utilize it to distribute responsibilities and financial commitments to developing nations, even the poorest on the planet, including islands that may disappear as a result of the climate change phenomenon.

The West refused to accept binding commitments to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by the year 2020, or to transfer technology and the accompanying financial aid to poor countries to help them reduce their harmful toxic emissions, the Cuban foreign minister stated.

In exposing the role of the U.S. president at the conference, he said, "at this Summit, there has been only one imperial, arrogant Obama, who does not listen, who imposes positions on and even threatens developing countries."

Translated by Granma International

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